At the end of last year I started a series of 4 posts on the general consensus of Girlguiding. Here are the titles of the first three:
Girlguiding is not and never was a Christian Organisation
What you’ve read about Girlguiding may not always be true
The misunderstandings of Girlguiding
I realise I never finished it off with the fourth post. I decided to focus on what I was up to in my life then and wait for a little break like this Easter holiday to step back into my thoughts on Guiding. So here I lead into the
finale of this series (but clearly not my last post on Girlguiding):
My Top Adventures in Girlguiding
Yes, in most cases this stage is known as ‘Rainbow’ but as a 6 year old there was no Rainbow units in my area. My Mum was a Brownie leader though, and when the unit went on their last Brownie Holiday for over a decade my Mum went along each day to help… and I was welcomed along too!
The theme was Robin Hood and I was looked after by these big girl Brownies. I was taken under their wing and shown their way of life. We made jewellery and hats to match our princess role. We tried archery. We wrote in our holiday diaries. And we ate sweet corn.
At 6, this was by experience of Girlguiding, and I couldn’t wait to join!
I started just after my seventh birthday (I had been on the waiting list since I was 3) and I was given a sticker with my name on and introduced to everyone. I was put into the Kelpies Six – somewhere I would stay until my role as Sixer.
My favourite Brownie adventure was to the Caves. We explored the dark, underground route – lead by a tour guide. The most memorable moment was running through one section as we were told ‘It was haunted’ and ‘we needed to be quick’. Way to scare a gang of 8 year olds!
I earned my chess badge. To some, that may sound like the most boring pastime, but it is something I still play today with my boyfriend. It is great for passing the time waiting for rollercoasters. I was tested alongside an older girl and we spent what felt like the entire evening moving our pieces around the board. Neither of us won, or even took other pieces, but we showed we knew how it worked!
I transferred into my friends’ Guide group and had a great time with my friends. We had a pyjama night, earned our Parties Go For It, learned how to play bowls and made tie-dye t-shirts.
We were the first girls to become the Lion Patrol. There was a few animals to choose between and my friends and I liked the look of this one. This was a big difference between Brownies and Guides – the patrols were a group of friends. I was the Patrol second, my friend and I were both received equal votes to become leader but when everyone was given the choice I lost out 3-1!
My Guide journey was shorter than my Brownie one. Unfortunately I had some unruly girls in my unit and it much became about the leaders shouting at them rather than enjoying ourselves. I was receiving any benefit anymore.
I re-joined Girlguiding a few weeks before my 19th birthday as I contemplated a career as a Primary School Teacher. My plan was to attend every other week, decide if the career was right for me, and leave after a few months service. 5 years later here I sit writing about my experiences!
My first achievement was completing my Leadership Qualification. It took a while but my mentor said I put more effort into my recordings than I needed to. I completed the work at a New Leader Training Day. My final item to complete was a leadership training in my section area. My mentor was there ad she reminded me to give my work into the leader running the day. As I gave it in she got the entire room quiet and congratulated me in front of everyone! It was scary, everyone looking at me, but felt great.
My next big achievement was packing up after our first Brownie Holiday. This unit hadn’t been away since that Robin Hood weekend when I was 6. After completing my leadership I was straight into researching going away. It was A LOT of work. I was lucky in the strangest way that I had two months between jobs. (I hadn’t in my notice a little too eagerly when I was offered work at a council college, I hadn’t factored in getting references from all 7 of my previous jobs). But these two months gave me all the time I needed to research ideas, plan activities, print all the posters and paperwork, write up everything, and generally freak out! The weekend didn’t go totally to plan, the rain took some of our activities indoors but it geld off so we could try the cresta run and archery. This has led onto two more Brownie Holidays, and plenty more to come!
A one off event I ran with our unit was a trip to the Paralympic games. We watched the Paralympic athletics from the front row of the stadium and joined in the celebrations of Aled Davies winning Gold for Paralympics GB. Some visitors stopped me and asked how Brownies had managed to get so many tickets, they could only get a couple. I responded that we had bought our 22 tickets back in January, there wasn’t even any rush to book like you would a music concert. The Brownies had a great time. We gave them all a goodie bag filled with a homemade programme, an Olympic keyring, a UK flag and a few sweets. This was a better option than braving the on site shop. We did visit the Mascot House though and met the mascots and played some games. Some of the girls even took their tickets into school for show and tell the next week. This is a Brownie trip I’ll never forget.
A few other stand out moments have been collecting 11 bags to send to Mary’s Meals Backpack Project, collecting together postcards from around the world for Thinking Day, setting up a pen pal exchange with some Girl Scout Troops in Florida and hearing one of my Brownies shout ‘This is the best day of my life’ at a Brownie activity day.
Being a Brownie is great, being a Guide is fun, but being a leader you can achieve anything and pass those experiences onto the girls you work with. People ask me why I bother. But, as cliché as it is, I get more out of it than the girls do!